The Peter Ho Leung-trained Gran Master joined our list of black bookers out of Sunday’s mixed meeting at Sha Tin, with the son of Mastercraftsman making a big impression at his first racetrack appearance.
His career kick-off was delayed last October with some suspensory injury issues but the big, strong International Sale graduate did enough at the trials to suggest he had a future but he was very erratic and unfinished.
Sunday’s fifth to Imperial Seal only underlined all of that but he shouldn’t be too long in picking up a Class Four on this display and has the scope to rise through the classes afterwards.
Slow to begin, Gran Master was then caught in some trouble going out of the straight the first time in the 1,650m dirt race and consigned to spending most of the race a clear last.
That may not have been a bad thing, as Gran Master looked at times like he didn’t know where to put his feet, and that might have been a bigger problem had he been in amongst horses.
The gelding is very green in his action but the eye-catching part of his debut was how he finished the race off when Alex Lai Hoi-wing asked for his effort.
Gran Master let go a serious dash to get past most of the field and easily out-finished the very experienced Terrific Master, a winner of six races who was also closing well from the back half of the race.
While horses running home from the back can, at times, be more about weakening leaders than the horse’s own speed, the leaders in this race enjoyed a soft run, sprinted hard down the straight and the first three most of the way cleared away to be the first three over the line.
Pulling ground off them was no easy task but Gran Master did it, producing the fastest finishing sprint of the six dirt races on the day.
Obviously, he handles the dirt but the stock of Mastercraftsman have been adept at Happy Valley too and have mostly been stayers, which is how Gran Master shapes as his career progresses.